How to Spot a Bard Owl

How to Spot a Bard Owl
Barred Owls (Strix varia) mostly live in forested areas and are a large-sized, chunky owl with dark eyes. If you will be walking or hiking in a forested area in the United States or Canada, you may be able to spot one using the following tips.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Field Guide to Birds
  • Field Guide to Birds
Step 1
Keep an eye out for Barred Owls along the entire East Coast of the Unites States as well as throughout the Midwest, South and Pacific Northwest. Also look for them from the Eastern Canadian provinces to the southern half of the Western Canadian provinces. Though they are not common in Alaska, very few have been seen in Southeast Alaska, which borders the Yukon Territory and British Columbia.
Step 2
Look in an area that is likely to be natural habitat for Barred Owls such as dense coniferous forested lands of low to medium elevation and or near streams and bogs in mountainous forests.
Step 3
Go out in the dark. Owls, this particular species included, are chiefly nocturnal, meaning they are out and about at night and are well hidden in the day. Your best chance of spotting a Barred Owl is during late dusk.
Step 4
Listen for loud, repeated hoots that may sound similar to "who-cooks-for-you" or a drawn out "hoo-ha." Though you have a better chance of spotting an owl in the evening, you may hear one anytime of day.
Step 5
Look to the trees for the form of an owl perching on a branch. Barred Owls are relatively large and average 21 inches in length. They are cream and brown in color and have dark barring on their upper breast and dark streaking below. Their small yellow beak is framed by a classic circular owl face and dark brown eyes, similar to the Spotted Owl.

Tips & Warnings

Always consult a guidebook with colored photographs or drawings so you may compare features and better identify the bird you have seen. It may prove difficult to get a photograph of an owl you see since they prefer to come out at night, but if you have a zoom lens it may be better than trying to get closer to the bird. Barred Owls have a very low tolerance for approaching visitors.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.